Search on for skills to restore historic Naxxar windmill mechanism

Restoring an 18th century windmill to its former glory requires specialist knowledge of the mechanism involved and those skills are not readily available

The Naxxar windmill is being restored to its former glory
The Naxxar windmill is being restored to its former glory

The Naxxar council is restoring an 18th century windmill to its original state and the search is on for the very few people with the skill to restore its mechanism.

Mayor Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami said the windmill’s mechanism was largely in place but the missing parts had to be replaced to make it fully functional.

She said a lot of research and funding were needed to restore the windmill to its original condition.

Speaking on TVM’s XtraSajf, Muscat Fenech Adami said that the local council wishes to see the windmill restored to its original state and given back to the people, to act as a cultural hotspot for the village.

However, she explained that this ambitious project requires a lot of funding in order to come to fruition, in part due to the windmill’s age and the amount of work required.

“Obviously, a lot of financing is need, and although a large portion is coming from European funds it’s never enough, because we’re always discovering one thing after another, and we’re also working on restoring the windmill’s mechanism as well, so that it will return to its original functioning state,” she said.

The mayor added that the council had already put out a tender for the restoration of the windmill’s mechanism, but noted that this will be quite a challenge, since the number of individuals capable of carrying out such a restoration are very few.

Chief project architect Frank Muscat also echoed these sentiments.

“It’s a huge challenge, because although we’re very lucky in that we have around three-quarters of the mechanism still in place, if you have one part missing, it still won’t work,” he said.

Muscat noted that this project is trying to bring about what is known as a historical reconstruction, where the missing parts of the windmill’s mechanism will be reproduced in the exact style and measurements of the originals, so as to return the mill to its original, functioning state.

“In the last 25 years, this has only happened twice in Malta. One in Gozo and one in Żurrieq, so it is very difficult to find someone with the skills necessary to do it again,” he said.

The architect explained that the first phase of the project is already nearing its completion.

“Three sides of the façade are already restored, and internally two of the floors have been changed and repaired,” he said.

The only thing that’s left is the restoration of the primary façade, and we’ve already had the electricity cables that were mounted on the façade removed,” he said.

Muscat Fenech Adami added that every step of the project has been monitored by Heritage Malta to ensure that all the work is being done in accordance with best industry practice.

She said that the tentative completion date for the project was March 2021, although she noted that the council was still waiting for permission from the Lands Authority to use 4m of land around the mill as a buffer zone.  

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